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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Land of the Lost: Cha-Ka Land of the Lost
TV episode
Written by David Gerrold
Directed by Dennis Steinmetz
Original airdate: September
7, 1974

Finding themselves trapped in a strange, pre-historic world, Rick Marshall and his children Will and Holly encounter the Pakuni, a race of ape men.

Read the complete story summary by Nels Olsen

Didja Know?

There is a slight difference in the opening theme song in this episode from that heard in the rest of the episodes of seasons one and two. Wesley Eure's voice hits a slightly different tone on a few words (such as "Holly" in "Marshall, Will, and Holly" and "down" in "plunged them down") and he sings only "the Land of the Lost" at 52.5 seconds into the song instead of "to the Land of the Lost". Listen: theme song in "Cha-Ka", theme song in later episodes.

I've also tweaked my own version of the title's the same recording that appears at the beginning of most of the first and second season episodes, but I've added a couple touches in keeping with the spirit of the show. See if you can notice them: theme song (modified)

Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode

Rick Marshall
Will Marshall
Holly Marshall

Didja Notice?

Will's blue shirt is relatively clean in this episode. In later episodes it is marked with dirt marks. It's a realistic touch that the Marshall's clothes would get grimier the more time they spent in this primitive world.

Rick Marshall says he saw three moons in the sky "last night", telling him he and his family are in another world from Earth. How long have they been in the Land of the Lost at this point? His remark makes it seem like only one day and night, yet they've managed to make a respectable home out of their cave at High Bluff and even build a large bamboo basket to haul supplies up to it and carve a point onto a wooden log as the "fly swatter" to combat Grumpy (as seen a bit later in this episode). I speculate on this in the Marshall Timeline.

The pylon discovered by Will and Holly in this episode does not appear to have a key on it (unless it's on one of the two sides visible from the camera point of view). Possibly this is the keyless Moongiver pylon that later opens under the influece of an eclipse in the season two episode "The Pylon Express".

The Pakuni have their ears set higher and further back than humans.

At the beginning of the episode, Holly is carrying the canteen on her belt. After the Marshalls run from Grumpy, Will asks for some water and then he puts the canteen on his belt when Holly runs off to investigate the chanting of the Pakuni. Then Grumpy chases the Pakuni and Will and Holly rescue the injured Cha-ka, with the canteen still on Will's belt. Yet, when they stop to tend to Cha-ka at 6:50 on the DVD, the canteen is suddenly on Holly's belt again. When the three Marshalls arrive back at High Bluff carrying Cha-ka, Will has the canteen again! He doesn't hand it back to her, yet after she and her father chase off Grumpy with the flyswatter, she is wearing it again!

One of the first things Will and Holly do to show friendship to Cha-ka (after rescuing him from Grumpy, of course) is to offer him water. Several times thereafter, in this episode and the next, Cha-ka asks for water. Was he really that thirsty all the time? This is a tactic often used by young children, asking for a repeated small gesture of kindness, to increase a bond with a new person in their lives.

At 11:50 on the DVD, a small hole is seen in the cliffside of High Bluff, affording a "window" for the Marshall's cave (seen from inside at 12:03).

The Marshalls go to sleep in their sleeping bags in full clothing...even their shoes!

The rope is not present hanging on the tree branch from the cliffside of High Bluff is not present when the Marshalls run into their cave in retreat from Grumpy at 19:59 on the DVD, but is suddenly there at 20:14. Then, the rope shifts positions several times without being touched starting at 20:18! As far as the shifting positions, maybe there was a wind blowing!

Pakuni translations
Time on DVD Pakuni English
3:50-5:34 Pakuni chanting "ota, ota, yeba ota" ota=fire, "yeba" is unknown
5:36 Ta says "Agamba!" "Tyrannosaur!"
6:32 Ta and Sa say "agamba" "Cha-ka" "tyrannosaur", "Cha-ka"
7:29 Cha-ka says "Me ji ye (mechi in Olsen glossary) osu." "Water, please."
7:37 "Ma osusu." "Give (me) water."
8:59 Cha-ka says "Yuman, yumani. Paku, Pakuni." "Human, humans. Paku, Pakuni"
10:47 Cha-ka says "osu" "water"
16:28 Cha-ka says "ota" "fire"
19:10 Ta says "Ye Chaka abu. Sa efi ye de toom? Erukani! Ye ba!" "What things you (have)? Freaks! You come!" It sounds like Ta says "de toom" which is not in any known glossary.
19:42 Ta says "ota" "fire"

Notes from the audio commentary by Sid and Marty Krofft

While it has become somewhat well-known that Sid presented a collage-style book of photos and illustrations cut from books and magazines to NBC to give an idea of what the show would be like, Sid reveals here the book was put together by Land of the Lost co-creator, Allan Foshko.

Land of the Lost was equalling prime-time ratings when it started airing on Saturday mornings.

When they started shooting the first season they had problems figuring out how to marry the stop-motion film with the video-taped live action. This was due to the fact that video was shot at 30 frames/second while film was shot at 24 frames/second. They finally developed a process to achieve it (according to Sid, it was Disney studios who helped them out!).

A pool made to look like it was made from rock that was used in the premiere of Krofft's Donny and Marie Show was later re-used on the set of Land of the Lost. I assume this was the water hole, seen most prominently in "Circle" when the Marshalls went swimming.

Notes from the audio commentary by David Gerrold

The High Bluff interior is a redress of the earlier Krofft series Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-75) set.

An occasional minor point of contention among fans is cleared up (sort of) when Gerrold reveals that Ta and Sa were not intended to be Cha-ka's parents. Gerrold says he deliberately wanted their relationship left vague, but he thought of them more as Cha-ka's older brother and sister.

Unanswered Questions

Why do the Marshalls never make use of their raft again? I speculate in my Marshall Timeline that Grumpy stepped on it, tearing it irreparably, during the chase after their initial arrival in the Land.

Memorable Dialog

Isn't he cute.mp3
Name him spot.mp3
So Grumpy.mp3
The size of a walnut.mp3
Let's get the flyswatter.mp3
It's not his fault.mp3
I'm learning Pakuni.mp3
Put Cha-ka in the basket.mp3
Keep him.mp3
Happy to see Grumpy.mp3

People, Places and Things (Provided by Michael Taylor)

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